$65M Tri-Faith Campus Unites Christians, Jews and Muslims in Omaha

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Members of a synagogue, mosque and church in Omaha, Nebraska, will soon be neighbors on a $65 million, 35-acre tri-faith campus in a bid to promote understanding and “a new vision of peace.”

“It’s a remarkable project, arguably the largest project in interfaith cooperation globally,” the Rev. Bud Heckman, executive director of the Tri- Faith Initiativetold the Independent Tribune this week. “It’s very bold and ambitious for the people of Omaha to think big like this and to build something on this scale.”

In 2009, Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church, and The American Muslim Institute went public with their vision to establish a joint campus at a banquet called “Dinner in Abraham’s Tent,” alluding to the connection all three faiths have with the biblical Abraham.

The vision for the initiative was sparked on 9/11, according to the Tribune, when Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel gathered congregants to help defend a mosque after the terrorist attack. Moved by the gesture, Muslims soon began engaging members of the synagogue at picnics and discussions. Five years later in 2006, they began privately considering building houses of worship together and find a Christian partner to help.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

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Indonesian Muslims defy extremism by marking Holy Week

1522658645Muslims across Indonesia joined Christians in celebrating Holy Week, providing a welcome boost to those trying to preserve and promote religious tolerance amid growing fears of extremism.

Many photos and videos showing Muslims at churches were posted on social media over Easter.

At St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Parish in Ambon, in Maluku province, dozens of young Muslims performed dances during a procession on Good Friday attended by Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina and other religious leaders.

Bishop Mandagi said the presence of Muslims showed a determination among people to maintain a brotherhood among different religious communities.

“This is an example of where religion becomes a unifying tool and this religious celebration becomes a bridge to strengthening relations,” he told ucanews.com on Easter Sunday.

Saidin Ernes, from the Ambon branch of the Ulema Council — Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body — said they wanted to “show that there is a strong fraternal relationship between religious believers in Maluku,” especially among Muslims and Christians.

A photo showing Muslim youths at the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Sentani, Papua was also circulated online.

They held banners that read Happy Easter for Christians. “Let us both maintain the integrity of our fellow religious believers.”

In Central Java, students from State Institute of Islamic Religion in Salatiga sang at the Java Christian Church during Easter celebrations on April 1.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Governor Anies Baswedan attended Easter celebrations with thousands of members of the Indonesia Bethel Church.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UCA NEWS

This Easter, a Group of Muslims in Australia Will Attend Mass — as They Have for the Past 13 Years

christians-muslims-dialogues-in-pakistanThis Sunday, Catholic churches across Sydney, Australia will bear the usual signs of Easter: incense, fresh flowers, a lit Paschal candle — and a few rows of churchgoers wearing kufi and headscarves. Every year for the past 13 years, groups of Muslims have attended Easter Mass in the Sydney Archdiocese and Broken Bay Diocese.

It all started around 2001 when a group of Gülen Muslims who had immigrated to Sydney from Turkey sought to dismantle animosity in their new home. For the group, who practices love of the creation, sympathy for the fellow human, compassion, and altruism, one way of coping was to actively foster understanding among Christian faith groups. So, they called the Catholic Dialogue and Interfaith Office of Sydney and explained that people were pulling veils off of Muslim women, spitting at them, and attacking them. The Director of the Office, Sister Trish Madigan, O.P., sprung into action. A Dominican Sister of Eastern Australia and Solomon Islands, Sister Trish holds a master’s in Ecumenical Interfaith Studies with a focus on Islam from Trinity College and a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Sydney.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE 

For the first time, Christians and Muslims to celebrate the Annunciation together in Amman

2848191871522126126The event is set for this Wednesday with government, religious and civil authorities present. For the patriarchal vicar to Amman, this will be part of the “theological, religious, spiritual dialogue” that accompanies everyday life. “We want to show the common points between Christians and Muslims, concerning the event of the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe,” he said.


AMMAN: This year, Jordan will hold its first interreligious celebration on the feast day of the Annunciation of Mary. On Wednesday, 28 March, government and civil authorities, Muslim religious leaders, Christian bishops and ordinary believers from both faiths will gather in a large hall in the capital to mark the occasion.

The event will serve to highlight “the importance of Mary in the Qur??n, and the value of the narrative of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke,” noted Mgr William H. Shomali, patriarchal vicar of the Latin Patriarchate in Amman.

In doing so, “We want to show the shared points between Christians and Muslims, concerning the event of the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe.”

For the past 12 years, the feast day of the Annunciation on 25 March has been a national holiday in Lebanon, a day off for everyone and an important moment for dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MALAYSIA HERALD 

Saudi Arabia scholar issues fatwa, says Muslims may pray in churches and synagogues

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A top scholar from Saudi Arabia has said that Islam is a religion of tolerance and mercy and that Muslims should spread true Islam and should be tolerant in their treatment of people from different religions.

Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said that Islam does not support violence, intolerance or terror. Al-Manea gave a fatwa (religious advisory opinion), stating that Muslims may pray in Shiite or Sufi mosques, churches or synagogues, according to reports by Al-Anba’ Kuwaiti newspaper.

He added that all the land belong to God and cited the Prophet’s words:  “The earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of purification for me.”

The Saudi scholar said that Islam is a religion of tolerance that Muslims cannot have differences in the basic principles of Aqidah (creed) of Islam, but they may differ in the branches, according to Arab News reports.

Citing an occasion where the Prophet received a delegation of Christians from Najran in his mosques, and allowed them to perform their own prayers, Al-Manea said that this is how non-Muslims should be treated by followers of Islam. He also cited several other sayings of the Prophet which reflected his kindness and mercy on non-Muslims.

The scholar said that Islam spread in several countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, because of the good manners of Muslim merchants. He said the behaviour of the merchants attracted the citizens of these countries to embrace the religion.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES 

Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus Walk for Unity

B2C36025-6EDD-4F4A-A15B-29BBFAD24264_cx0_cy10_cw0_w1023_r1_sIn a Washington synagogue, Susan Katz Miller sat beside an atheist, a Muslim and a Christian on Sunday.

No joke.

After listening to a Zoroastrian prayer, Miller – a Jew from an interfaith family – and two friends (an atheist and a Muslim), walked down leafy and elegant Embassy Row in Washington. They paid their respects at various churches, broke for an Indian lunch at the Sikh Gurdwara temple, and wound up at the Islamic Center of Washington, where they heard remarks by Imam Abdullah Khouj and listened to the famous Hindu “Gayatri Mantra.”

Close to a thousand people – members of different faiths, most of them residents of Maryland, Virginia or the nation’s capital – joined Miller and her friends at Unity Walk 2017, an annual celebration of diversity and culture held in Washington for the past 12 years. They carried a message of solidarity, caring and inclusiveness on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

“We want to model that people do care about each other and want to learn about each other,” said Rabbi Gerald Serotta, executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

“We believe God intends us to learn from each other,” he said.

According to Rasit Telbisoglu, program director at the Rumi Forum, a cosponsor of the DC Unity Walk, the event will help open eyes to the plight of others.

“These events are actually helping us build trust in each other,” Telbisoglu said. “You slowly build up a relationship. … When you do that, it’s hard to harbor prejudice against another community.”

Music director David North conducts interfaith singing group Mosaic Harmony at closing ceremony for Unity Walk 2017 on Sunday 09/10/17 in the U.S. capital. (B. Bradford/VOA)

Music director David North conducts interfaith singing group Mosaic Harmony at closing ceremony for Unity Walk 2017 on Sunday 09/10/17 in the U.S. capital. (B. Bradford/VOA)

 

Want to build interfaith friendships? Here’s how music can help

1817616SALT LAKE CITY — The sounds of booming drums, clapping hands, a South Indian flute and an ancient horn filled the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sunday evening, as performers of all ages shared the music of their faiths.

“Sacred Music Evening 2017” showcased the talents of 10 religious ensembles, including Buddhist dancers, gospel singers and Sufi whirling dervishes. The groups took turns entertaining a joyous crowd before artists and attendees alike joined their voices to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

 “With God, our creator, family all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony,” they sang.

The annual event, which began 15 years ago as a way to celebrate the religions represented at the 2002 Winter Olympics, brings together music lovers from Utah’s faith communities, highlighting shared values through lively songs, dances and spoken words. This year’s performers included representatives from more than a dozen congregations in the Salt Lake Valley.

Music is a powerful tool in efforts to build interfaith bonds, noted Roberta King, author of “(un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians.” People may come to a concert feeling awkward or anxious, but soon enough they’ll be swaying and singing along.

“Music engages us almost immediately at the emotional level,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DESERET NEWS